Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Thursday 17 December 2015

blur, beautiful yorkshire, hot, fungi, wild angelica, lecture room 7, facing the strange, edward thomas's birds' nests

Scenes from the last couple of difficult weeks that have passed in a blur.

Mum's funeral was in Yorkshire where Dad is buried. It was a bright sunny afternoon and the countryside surrounding the churchyard was as beautiful as it ever was.

The support of family and close friends was so very much appreciated.

Around Oxford, the days have mostly been lightless but hot. Fifteen or even seventeen degrees. A boon for fungi - and it seems, wild angelica.

The lost glove looks jollier than I must have done recently.

Amidst the sadness, though, there have been good times. I loved working with the undergraduate students during my seminar series, which finished last week. I first started teaching it in Lecture Room 7 in 2007. The door isn't exactly Brideshead, perhaps, but it's mine - at least for two and a half hours a week for five weeks as autumn gives way to winter.

I also finished copy editing what we're calling the uncorrected proof edition of Facing the Strange at the weekend, and the printed proof arrived today. Although an advocate of ebooks, you can't beat a real book!

At Mum's funeral I read Edward Thomas's poem Birds' Nests:

The summer nests uncovered by autumn wind,
Some torn, others dislodged, all dark,
Everyone sees them: low or high in tree,
Or hedge, or single bush, they hang like a mark.

Since there's no need of eyes to see them with
I cannot help a little shame
That I missed most, even at eye's level, till
The leaves blew off and made the seeing no game.

'Tis a light pang. I like to see the nests
Still in their places, now first known,
At home and by far roads. Boys knew them not,
Whatever jays and squirrels may have done.

And most I like the winter nests deep-hid
That leaves and berries fell into:
Once a dormouse dined there on hazel-nuts,
And grass and goose-grass seeds found soil and grew.


  1. Frank, thank you for sharing this. The end of a generation is a strange sad thing. I'm glad you chose the Edward Thomas poem.
    As one of the group who were there for those 2007 undergraduate lectures in Room 7 I know we'd all thank you and congratulate you on still going strong.
    All best wishes for Christmas and New Year.

  2. Oh and congratulations and envy on finishing the novel too - looking forward to its publication.

    1. Thanks, Margaret. Though, sadly, I haven't finished a novel... (Only the life-writing book.) The novel is SB Sweeney's! My very best wishes to you and Marc for Christmas and New Year!

  3. Sorry to hear about your loss. We are all orphans in the end.

    Love the glove!